Personal protection is a growing market

BODYGUARD services are growing in demand thanks to Perth’s high crime rate, says Australasia Protective Services director of operations and investigations and close protection specialist Michael Martino.

According to new book Justice on the Edge, Crime and Punishment in WA by Tom Lawson, crime statistics show armed robbery in WA has jumped 260 per cent from 1991 to 1996.

Serious assault has leapt nearly fifty-fold in the thirty years to 1997-98.

Mr Martino said people did not feel safe any more.

“Our clients can be people who have specific concerns for their health and welfare, are involved in domestic violence matters or are dealing with large amounts of cash,” he said.

Mr Martino said foreign diplomats visiting WA without a formal invitation were usually not afforded government protection.

“They have to apply formally for protection and usually find it easier to go to a private security firm,” he said.

“The company also provides protection for celebrities visiting WA.”

Security Agents Institute of WA president Jerry Lee Jones said there had been a growth in demand for bodyguard services from visitors from the eastern states and overseas.

“A lot of people are also becoming aware that if they are carrying large amounts of cash, they need close protection,” Mr Jones said.

Mr Martino said security banking was a growing market.

“An employer’s duty of care can make it inappropriate to send the receptionist to the bank with a bag of money,” he said.

Instead, a plainclothes ASP operative takes the money to the bank.

Mr Martino said the Hollywood image of bodyguards as musclebound, cowboys was not always accurate.

“We prefer to hire nondescript people who work well in all social situations,” he said.

“Avoiding confrontation is the key.”

However, about 90 per cent of the company’s staff are ex-military and most of those have been involved with special forces units such as the Special Air Services Regiment.

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